in Indonesia, Norway

REDD fails to address the drivers of deforestation in Indonesia

Indonesia’s rate of deforestation doubled in 2011-2012, compared to 2000-2003. That’s according to a recent satellite mapping study led by the University of Maryland with help from Google and NASA.

Yet Indonesia is one of the most active countries in implementing REDD. In 2010, Indonesia signed a US$1 billion REDD deal with Norway. It set up a REDD+ Task Force. It has a REDD pilot province. It has a moratorium on new forest concessions (which has been extended for another two years). It has a REDD+ Agency.

How can deforestation increase with all this going on?

The problem is that REDD exists in parallel to business as usual. REDD has nothing to say about Indonesia’s massive infrastructure development plans, for example under the Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI).

This week, Indonesian NGOs put out this press release highlighting the failure of REDD to address the causes of deforestation:

“Indonesian Civil Society Rejects Development Policy that Contradicts Efforts to Save Forests”

Jakarta, December 17, 2013. Indonesia is at a crossroad. President SBY’s commitment to reduce emissions by 26% or 41% from business as usual projection by 2020 while maintaining 7% of economic growth is increasingly questioned by civil society, especially in the wake of destructive development projects under the banner of Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (Presidential Decree No. 88/2011) or MP3EI that further threaten Indonesia’s remaining forests and contradict Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan from the forest sector. Government’s promise to ‘green’ MP3EI following civil society’s protest has not materialized while the 2014 General Election is around the corner. Environmental degradation and agrarian conflicts are expected to increase prior to the ‘political year’ as politicians need a vast amount of money to fund their campaign. In this case, regional level becomes very important as concessions for natural resources exploitation are issued in massive number at this level.

Government policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation known as REDD+ are operating in the middle of policy inconsistency and incoherence. The much-applauded REDD+ National Strategy (Stranas) launched in June 2012 has yet to be implemented. REDD+ Agency that is expected to implement the Strategy was established eventually, but its authority is severely limited and its staff is not operational yet, rendering it left out in the ongoing policy processes. Legally speaking, the REDD+ National Strategy is considerably weaker compared to MP3EI backed up by a Presidential Regulation.

The Strategy itself has started to descend into Provincial Strategy and Action Plans (SRAP) to implement REDD+ at the regional level. HuMa examined the substance of SRAP in three Provinces: West Sumatra, East Kalimantan and Central Sulawesi, especially with regards to indigenous people and local communities’ rights. Preliminary analysis suggests that there is a grave omission of deforestation projection and potential for environment and forest destruction due to MP3EI, as in the case of SRAP of Central Sulawesi, the former UN-REDD Pilot Province.

“SRAP of Central Sulawesi reflects only environmental problems of the past, “said Martje Leninda, Director of Bantaya Association.”What are concrete plans of the Regional Government to reduce deforestation and resolve forestry conflicts when at the same time they implement MP3EI projects that would potentially add new conflicts?”

“Mining activities in Central Sulawes have expanded significantly,” said Rifai Hadi, Campaign Manager of Network for Mining Advocacy (Jatam) of Central Sulawesi. “In 2013, there are 356 mining permits covering 1.5 million hectares of land, not to mention past contracts (Kontrak Karya) and gas industries.”
Besides, the number of palm oil expansion in Central Sulawesi has reached a critical level. “On paper, Palm Oil Permit in Central Sulawesi has reached 94.000 hectares. In Morowali District only, palm oil increased 100% within the last 5 years,” said Ahmad, Director of WALHI Central Sulawesi.

Weak legal basis is another concern. The REDD+ Regional Strategy is based only on a Governor Regulation (Pergub), which is weaker than Regional Regulation (Perda) that backs natural resources exploitation policy in Central Sulawesi. “A Governor Regulation is too small a suit to contain the posture of forestry problems. The legal basis must be upgraded” said Azmi Sirajuddin from Yayasan Merah Putih/YMP Palu. “Another shortcoming of SRAP in Central Sulawesi is that it has not reached the district level, resulting in lack of support from district governments regarding its future implementation.”

Andreas Lagimpu, Head of Community Chamber of the National Forestry Council from Sulawesi Region stressed that REDD+ Program in Central Sulawesi must seriously support sustainable forest management by communities. “Indigenous and local communities have their own knowledge system and social order in managing and protecting forests in just and sustainable manner,” said he.

Beside NGOs, the academics also criticize MP3EI. “The development of MP3EI and its activities at the regional level was not based on well-conducted research,” Said Prof. Dr. Deddy Hadriyanto, M. Agr., Head of the Center for Climate Change Studies, Mulawarman University. “The government did not sufficiently consult academicians. It is outrageous that MP3EI was adopted by regional governments when the ‘greening’ process has not even materialized.”

Rully Darmadi from Jatam of East Kalimantan also stated that MP3EI has the potential to increase destructive political transactions and conflicts. “It has been proven that prior to regional election, natural resources exploitation always increases.”

Meanwhile, in West Sumatra, a unique element of the Provincial Strategy and Action Plan is the promotion of Nagari Forest for REDD+. “Forest management by Nagari is based on traditional institutions and knowledge. In addition to preventing deforestation, Nagari forest management will also improve the economic well-being of Nagari community as well as resolving former forestry conflicts,” said Rainal Daus, Project Manager from KKI – Warsi.

However, strong institutional support is necessary to achieve a breakthrough. “Without strong institutional and personnel support, Nagari will continue to experience difficulties when they are forced to fight with permits that are destructive and lead to conflict. It would be worse when the permits are issued as a part of local political cost, “said Naldi Gantika, Manager of Conflict Resolution Program from Qbar Association.

“Both central and local government must end inconsistencies between efforts to save forests, including REDD+, and exploitative policies such as MP3EI,“ said Anggalia Putri, Climate Change Program Coordinator from HuMa. “Without consistency of broader development policies, including of mining, plantation, and infrastructure sectors, REDD+ will float alone like an isolated island and most likely to eventually drown.”


Media Contacts:

1. Anggalia Putri, Coordinator of Forestry, Climate Change, and Community Rights Programs from HuMa,, 08562118997.
2. Martje Leninda, Director of Perkumpulan Bantaya, Central Sulawesi,, 085243274832.
3. Andreas Lagimpu, Member of Community Chamber of National Forestry Council, Region of Sulawesi,, 081341047373.
4. Azmi Sirajuddin, Coordinator of Forest & Climate Change Program, Red and White Foundation (Yayasan Merah Putih/YMP) Palu,; 081245038678.
5. Rainal Daus, Project Manager of KKI – WARSI, , 081363181880.
6. Naldi Gantika, Manager of Conflict Resolution Program, Perkumpulan Qbar,, 081266425282.
7. Prof. Dr. Deddy Hadriyanto, M. Agr., Head of Center for Climate Change Studies, Mulawarman UNiversity,;, 081254440817.
8. Rifai Hadi, Campaign Manager of Mining Advocate Network of Central Sulawesi,, 085256248909.
9. Ahmad, Director of Walhi of Central Sulawesi,, 081354311740.


PHOTO Credit: David Gilbert, “Indonesia’s deforestation: no mystery here”, The Understory, Rainforest Action Network, 11 September 2009.

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